Kern was not able to speak with us about the case at press time, but he authorized a spokesman to say he is innocent of the charges and plans to fight them.
Here at The Hunting Report, we have known for some time that the US government was seeking to build a case against Kern and the hunters he booked into the Russian Far East in 2002. The US hunters in that party included Mike Simpson, a former president of SCI; Dan Duncan, a wealthy Texan; and Tom Riley, the former Executive Director of SCI. Riley, ironically, is a former US Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Agent.
This case first broke into the open several weeks ago when Dan Duncan's attorney admitted to a reporter from the Houston Chronicle that his client indeed shot animals from a helicopter on that trip. He says his client was not aware it was illegal for him to do so, despite the presence on that trip of Tom Riley, the former No. 2 man in the US Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Division. Apparently, the grand jurors accepted that claim of ignorance, as Duncan was not indicted despite the prosecutor's attempt to formally accuse him of illegal activity. We believe the prosecutor who tried to indict Duncan turned her guns on Kern at that point.
Kern's decision to fight these charges is not without risks. He faces fines up to $750,000 and up to five years in jail. The crime he is accused of is a felony, too.
In our view, this case should not be viewed as a referendum........(continued)